The FDA just can't seem to approve anything these days. Earlier in the week, the agency delayed Eli Lilly's
Merck said that the FDA has some "issues" with the drugmaker's request to expand the approved age range to include women aged 27 though 45 -- the vaccine is currently approved for females aged nine through 26. The data from a trial in older women looked good, so I'm a little surprised at the agency's move. Since Merck plans to have all the agency's questions answered next month, it's possible that the issues are minor and that it's just another case of the FDA not getting its job done in time.
The drugmaker also said that the FDA wouldn't approve a change to the label stating that the vaccine helps protect patients against other strains that cause cervical cancer. That doesn't seem like a major issue to me; the vaccine already claims to protect against four strains that cover a majority of cervical cancer and genital warts cases, so the additional wording probably wouldn't add much to sales.
Ironically, the FDA's increased scrutiny could be the best thing for Merck. GlaxoSmithKline
More from The Motley Fool
Better Buy: Eli Lilly and Co. vs. Merck & Co., Inc.
Find out which big American pharma is best suited to provide big gains in the years to come.
Donald Trump's Nominee for HHS Secretary Causes a Tumble in Biotech Stocks
Worry about whether drug pricing will return to the forefront in Washington, D.C. is increasing following Donald Trump's nomination of a drug-industry insider as his next Department of Health and Human Services secretary.
10 Stunning Numbers You Need to Know About Breast Cancer
There's more good news than you might think.